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Thursday, Dec. 25, 2014

Under God?

Posted Tuesday, August 24, 2010, at 8:53 AM

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." (from the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America).

With due deference to more learned opinion, it does seem most unlikely the 1780s era framers of the Constitution had in mind all that has since been derived from the First Amendment. It is possible all they wanted was to avoid a state church. When they used the word "religion" it is unlikely anything but "Christian" was in their minds, and ideally "Protestant" religion. The case has been made the omission was deliberate. Whatever the intent, what they got came to be called religious freedom.

If you grew up in an American public school prior to about 1965, you lived in a different world with a worldview no longer politically possible to promulgate in state supported education. Particularly for one coming into grade school shortly after yet another "righteous" war, knowing we were part of a "Christian nation" was a vital ingredient in our education.

As children we were taught the primary motivation for coming to America was freedom of religion. People, we were told, had no other reason for establishing America than to be free to worship in whatever manner they wished. Hence we learned of Jamestown, the Pilgrims, etc.

The fact that these first immigrants wouldn't have found transportation without a certain underlying greed of merchandise was not mentioned before high school.

For about two centuries we called ourselves a "Christian" nation. Being Catholic was almost as good; being Jewish was barely tolerated because we needed their talents -- and money; anything else was "foreign."

The world changed. If you did not live through the 1960s, you missed a lot of changing.

An important turning point in changing us from a "Christian nation" to whatever we have now was the legal case brought by Madelyn Murray O'Hare. As described by one (admittedly bias) website:

"In June of 1963, the Supreme Court upheld the argument of the atheist Madelyn Murray O'Hare and promulgated an edict with ramifications so widespread it insured that God would be evicted from public society across the entire spectrum of the American governmental system. From that day to this, not only has prayer been outlawed, God's very name has been declared anathema to the United States Constitution, and forbidden to be mentioned in any federal, state, county, city or municipal context." (goodnewspirit.com).

It is not at all clear, trying to see the world as a self-proclaimed Christian, that the changes in our world have been all that bad for the true Church.

I propose a three-part hypothesis, to be challenged or ignored by those who would actually be "Christian":

I propose that NOT being a "Christian nation" is a good thing for followers of Christ, those always called to be strangers in a strange land. If we do not live a life that declares "this way and no other," do we have right to ask the law to make us right?

I propose that our culture will diminish in direct proportion to rejection of "Christian bias" as a foundation to government (and has already so diminished). The challenge to the Christian, to the Church of every generation, is to stand witness against the winds of political correctness.

I propose that America is, at very least, no longer "under God." Perhaps America never truly was what we were told we were. Unfortunately the written record indicates a price to pay by nations, which come out from under the covering of the "Christian God."

Certainly God has blessed and prospered us because Christians inhabit the land. If we are not "under God," can we continue to ask Him to bless us?

David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at kayanddavid@verizon.net.


Comments
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God is as necessary for success as oxygen is for life. As the U.S. moves further away from God, Christians will be fine, but things are going to be so much harder for everyone else. This is so avoidable, but not in a generation where the mentality seems to be 'anything but God.'

-- Posted by brazilian on Mon, Aug 30, 2010, at 7:55 AM

brazilian:

If we truly wanted God to be a part of our government then we would have to follow rules of a religion in all decisions pertaining to the government. An example would be capital punishment. There would be no death penalty if we were truly a Christian nation as the thou shalt not kill is not limited to those not judged by other human beings or those guilty of killing. The commandment does not say thou shalt not kill unless that person has also killed a person thought to be important enough to society so as to have government sanction an additional murder.

Like all humans we pick and choose what rules the majority of society agree with and not the rules of any one religion. Our death penalty actually makes our government practice more closely in that one aspect to those of some Arab nations who also have capital punishment.

What's to say that once we did establish a Christian government that an argument wouldn't be made over WHICH Christian religion to follow? While the Catholic faith is said to be the original Christian faith, the king of England created his own so he could divorce his wife and switched to the Church of England, in our country the Episcopal church. Martin Luther also disagreed and started what became the Lutherans. It seems on each street corner in America someone has started a different sect of Christianity because one person or group of people didn't agree with the traditions. morays and rules of another's interpretation of the rules of Christianity to the point that some believe that if their own brand isn't practiced the individual will burn in hell for an eternity. After all that is what the protestant religions are...protests over the rules of the Catholic Church. The actual definition of catholic is the same as the definition of Christianty, being universal and encompassing all peoples. Now it is mostly used as being Roman Catholic and many who are Protestant don't even realize that historically their brand of religion were the protesters against the established Christian church. Now some do not even recognize the Roman Catholic Church as being Christian nor a place from which their own religion has branched.

While the founding fathers were separating the church and state, thinking about the different Christian religious prejudices of the times, have we really progressed as human beings to the point where we could all agree upon one "brand" of Christianity? I highly doubt it as even the different editions of the Bible continue to prove that it can't. Now that the world is smaller due to transportation and communication technology we really have to consider and respect the beliefs of those who have other religions as well as due to the rarity of Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, etc at the time of the birth of our country were likely not to have even been a thought in forefather's minds as they were being faced with being governed by an unfair Christian ruler in Europe. We have to look at the history that puts their decisions in perspective and apply them to the current conditions. If we were to revert to the conditions of pre revolutionary America we would all have to follow the Episcopalian rules and some of the people who practiced other Christian religions would not even be allowed to own land under that rule. No we need to keep church and state separate and not even have the appearance of favoring one religion over another so as not to set a precedent one way or the other.

I would hope that both Christians of all sects would be fine as well as those whose beliefs differ if we maintain true separation of church and state so all people will be respected for their own beliefs while true Christianity will be seen as something practiced and not only spouted for political power and by example will maintain a true popularity for that same reason and not simply because there are more people living here with those specific affiliations.

Have good day

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Mon, Aug 30, 2010, at 10:17 AM

Jenny, I certainly respect your right to feel this way. However, the decision to push forward under humanistic or athiestic values is still using a standard of faith that such ideals are superior than a reliance on God's word. I would encourage you to read Proverbs 2 -maybe you already have. Here is a sampling,

6 For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,

8 Guarding the paths of justice, And He preserves the way of His godly ones.

9 Then you will discern righteousness and justice And equity and every good course.

10 For wisdom will enter your heart And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;

11 Discretion will guard you, Understanding will watch over you.

Wisdom and understanding are things we want from our decision makers. Without God they have only themselves as a standard. We want uprightness and integrity. Where did we get such a notion. Justice, equity and every good course are things we learn not from self but from God. It's silly to think that these are fine traits for our personal lives but do not have a place in government. Fact is, we get most upset when our government does not act in an equitable manner or when justice is perverted because of who the violator may be. No Jenney, the very concepts of liberty and justice for ALL are Godly concepts, not human. Unalienable rights that we all enjoy are indeed God-given. Man, left to his way, will hog power at all costs. The amazing thing about our founders was the fact that they had the opportunity to be kings but chose otherwise - because that's what was right, just and the good course. Where did they ever get such a notion?

-- Posted by brazilian on Tue, Aug 31, 2010, at 8:59 AM

You don't get my point. Having Christians work as God's instrument is what makes a government Christian, not declaring that it is so or telling people that they HAVE to live under a Christian government. If we elect Christians who follow the basic commandment of loving our neighbor as ourselves as that is what Christ asked us to do, it will BE a Christian government.

Sort of like what is creeping into Communist China. The Roman Catholic church as well as other Christian sects have started to open old age homes for people whose children cannot support them since the one child per family law. This has resulted in a family being obligated to support two sets of grandparents which is financially impossible for some poor families to do. this left some of their old and poor homeless and begging in the streets. As a result of this demonstration of Christianity, the Catholic Church is gaining followers and the government isn't stopping it because it is benefitting their people. I believe that there is even a seminary which is now training Chinese priests. Sort of like the saying you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

The Bible can be recited til the cows come home and a good guide to follow but can only be used as general guide and only in context of when the various books were written to understand why the authors wrote what they did and some of the specifics that were important to the time period don't make sense outside the context of when and the community in which they were written.. For example in Leviticus it says that you should not wear a garment that is made of both wool and linen?? Where did that come from... Was there a fued between the flax growers and sheep herders? Or did the author not want his daughter going to some shepherd to "bargain" for wool?? While the authors of the Bible were inspired by God to help them keep the peace and insurance of a thriving community, too many think the words came right from God and do not have any human error in their meaning or intent. Like the constitution of the USA not being right for some other country and their culture, some of the minute details of the Bible do not always apply and many times are contradicted by other authors of the other books in it. Too many beleive it at a 4th grade level just as they believe in Santa Claus and never look at the true meaning of it and why it was written in the way it was. I once participated in a bible study that was lead by a Dutch Reformed pastor who studied the history of Biblical Times and could insert the politics and culture of the times in which the books were written. It was the most eye opening and enlightening groups I have ever participated in.

Have a Good day.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Wed, Sep 1, 2010, at 9:18 PM

The prohibition in Lev 19:19 has a specific reason attached to it. The verse begins, "You are to keep my statutes..." God had separated certain things in creation and they were to keep them separate. They didn't cross breed animals, plant two kinds of seed in the same field/vineyard, yoke an ox with a donkey (parallel verse Duet. 22:11). Why? These children of God were to be separated from the worldliness that surrounded them. When the kids asked something like, "Mommy, why don't we wear wool AND linen clothing like the other kids?", she would answer some form of, "We keep ourselves separate. We don't blend rightousness with evil, or God's will with popular modern beliefs. Our clothing reminds of this everyday." God trained these people like children so that they and we would get the big picture - the adult lessons. We don't have this clothing prohibition today. It is not repeated in the New Testament and therefore not required of us. The principle behind the simple lesson is still true - don't blend with worldliness. P.S. Inspired means "God-breathed". IE. It's as if the words written came as a result of air from God's lungs being pushed through his throat and out his mouth. These spokesmen of old were not winging it.

-- Posted by brazilian on Fri, Sep 3, 2010, at 9:38 AM


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